Twitter: GeoffShac
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Just as one can see and appreciate beautiful paintings without being able himself to paint, so can one play and appreciate hundreds of golf courses without being able to develop that natural aptitude and artistic sense which, to my mind, contribute so largely to the successful and outstanding accomplishments of a golf architect. CHARLES BANKS


    

Friday
Sep192008

Red Numbers Can Be The Game's Friend!

Over at GolfDigest.com I posted about some of the nuances we're seeing today that have bred some downright thrilling Ryder Cup golf.  It's so simple really. A little room off the tee, hole locations not buried in places to prevent birdies, green speeds within reason and an overall philosophy of allowing for aggressive play.

The question I ask, as always: why can't we do this all the time in golf?

Is protecting par really that sacred?

Is everyone able to watch day one enjoying it as much as I am?

Friday
Sep192008

"Unashamedly, we have to be commercial when we allocate the event"

I posted this as the last item on the GolfDigest.com clippings post along with a few more new items, and while the matches are proving quite compelling so far, I'd hate to see this item get forgotten. Paul Kelso writes:

George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, is proud of the commercial profile that the event now enjoys and says there is no limit to where it might be staged; he would even consider staging it in Dubai, soon to be the setting for the European Tour finale.

"Unashamedly, we have to be commercial when we allocate the event," he said this week. "The Ryder Cup underwrites the finances of the Tour and funds all the game development and charitable work we do. Every penny we make goes back into the game, but we have to make as much as we can from the home match."

O'Grady believes the tournament has thrived because it delivers measurable benefits to the regions that act as host, and does not rule out a match in the Middle East.

Unashamedly, won't someone step up and explain to the European Tour that it's one thing to subject us to some truly awful golf courses, but another thing entirely to go outside of Europe?

Thursday
Sep182008

Friday Ryder Cup Clippings

Another entertaining day of stories filed and some other fun Ryder Cup items are up at GolfDigest.com.

Thursday
Sep182008

"The tour's veterans may sense it's time to go back to the Way of Palmer, but the young guys know only a one-way street."

I'm not sure how I missed this, but Jaime Diaz files an intriguing diagnosis of the pro game's woes and picks up on the theme echoed in other recent columns: the players have lost touch and don't have much flair.

Golf without Woods underscores how decadent the PGA Tour has become—and by extension, how fragile. In a tanking economy in which leisure time is evaporating, what was thought to be a momentary bobble is looking more like a bursting bubble. With corporate America and TV networks worriedly wondering if they overvalued the product, that dreaded euphemism "market adjustment" is in the air.
And...
All the taking without sufficiently giving back didn't seem to matter for a long time, but now it does. As CEOs reassess where to spend their money, purses actually could be headed down for the first time in decades (following TV ratings). The tour's veterans may sense it's time to go back to the Way of Palmer, but the young guys know only a one-way street.
Camilo Villegas is a good example. Much has come the 26-year-old's way because of his looks, his body, his clothes and his game. But the native of Colombia has never been expansive with the media, so it was a welcome change when after his third-round 63 at Boston, he thoughtfully reflected on subjects ranging from his struggle as an A-student at Florida to speak English, to his fitness regime. But then, casually but with a hint of impatience, he said, "If you guys let me go, I'll go get another workout in." It's a sentence the PGA Tour doesn't need. It does need Phil Mickelson signing autographs, Padraig Harrington opening the book on his recipe for winning majors, Geoff Ogilvy offering astute analysis, Paul Goydos being droll and Rocco Mediate being Rocco.
Thursday
Sep182008

Opening Ceremonies Live Blog

Reminder: it kicks off at a little before 4 p.m. EST at GolfDigest.com.

Wednesday
Sep172008

Thursday's Ryder Cup Clippings

They're up at GolfDigest.com. Nick Faldo should not read what they're writing.

And don't forget I'll be live blogging the Opening Ceremonies at GolfDigest.com, starting at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN NEWS. Let's get through the pain and suffering together, okay?

Wednesday
Sep172008

"We have had a continual dialogue with the Tour for around six months."

Garry Smits gets the impression that a new PGA Tour event on Sea Island is almost a done deal.

Eric Schneider, Sea Island director of golf, told the Times-Union on Tuesday that the resort is in discussions with the Tour to add the event as a replacement for the Valero Texas Open, which will move to the spring next year.

This year's Texas Open is scheduled for Oct. 9-12.

Schneider said an announcement could be made "as early as two weeks from now."

"It's under consideration," Schneider said. "We have had a continual dialogue with the Tour for around six months."

Wednesday
Sep172008

Major Changes

A few readers wondered why I haven't posted the recent news about Cog Hill and Chambers Bay. Frankly, I'd like to say I was digesting the material but really, I just forgot.

First, Len Ziehm in the Sun Times, writing about Cog Hill possibly reopening this fall after a Rees-toration.

''With God's help, we'll be open this fall,'' said Jemsek, who at least would like to give 50 groups of players who had permanent tee times a sneak preview of what's ahead for them in 2009.

The long-term goal of the $5 million renovation is to bring a U.S. Open to Cog Hill -- the dream of late owner Joe Jemsek, Frank's father. Rees Jones, the architect known as the ''Open Doctor'' for his ability to ready courses for major championships, thinks it will happen.

''This is a major championship venue now,'' Jones said. ''I've done 11 [major venues], and this will be the 12th. It's very helpful that the BMW is played there because the players will see how much it's improved. It's been a wonderful experience for all of us.''

At least he's not counting his major venues! I wonder if he includes Bellerive in there?

The news from Washington is a bit more confusing. From the Chambers Bay website:
Course improvements planned to begin by December 2008, and scheduled to be finished by Spring of 2010 include: a) construction of a new practice facility, b) construction of new tees on holes 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 15, and 17, c) rebuilding many of the sand bunkers to develop and maintain the "Tillinghast-like bunker edges" envisioned by RTJII, d) enlarging the green of hole 15, and e) removing noxious and invasive broadleaf weeds in dunes as well as planting new fine fescue turf to cover dunes where planting has been sparse.

Tillinghast bunker edges should be interesting, especially since he had about four different styles.

Wednesday
Sep172008

Ryder Cup Rumblings, Vols. 2-4

More posts are up over at GolfDigest.com, including Johnny Miller stirring things up, Nick Faldo's pairings revealed...maybe and a YouTube clip of Paul Azinger giving the maintenance crew a pep talk that made me want to run out and rake a hundred bunkers!

Wednesday
Sep172008

New D.C. Area Course Closes

Kendra Marr in the Washington Post reports on the closure of The Presidential.

Billed as a boardroom with a golf course, The Presidential aimed to be an exclusive retreat for corporate businessmen to network and entertain clients. Membership was capped at 150 companies, each paying $60,000 a year for employees and clients to use the golf course and clubhouse on Waxpool Road, east of Loudoun County Parkway. It also attracted a number of big names, such as Bill Dean, president and chief executive officer of M.C. Dean, and former Washington Redskins player Darrell Green, as investors.
A second phase, with an additional nine holes and other amenities, was planned to be added by 2010 at a cost of $30 million.
Shocking that it would fail with those numbers.

According to the club website it's a Dave Heatwole design.

Tuesday
Sep162008

A Good Sign?

After her first round 70, Michelle Wie passed on interview requests and won't be talking until Friday. Couple that positive development with actually playing Q-school, and perhaps we're finally seeing her career handled more shrewdly? You know, like, with an emphasis on letting her focus on her game instead of pleasing her sponsors and parents desire for media spectacles?

Tuesday
Sep162008

Ryder Cup Rumblings, Vol. 1

I'll be doing most of my Ryder Cup posts over at GolfDigest.com starting today. To kick things off, I've pieced together an array of stories that I think provide a nice primer on all things 2008.

Make sure to check back often and join me in getting through the Opening Ceremonies with a live blog starting at 12 p.m. EST on Thursday, before we focus on the matches starting dark and early Friday morning.

Tuesday
Sep162008

Azinger: My Nick Would Never Say Something Like That!

Lawrence Donegan reports that Paul Azinger isn't buying the report that Nick Faldo suggested geezer assistants Stockton and Floyd were not helping the U.S. out much.

Yet Azinger was at it again yesterday, standing by his opposite number after it emerged Faldo let it slip the US captain was regretting the choice of Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton as his vice-captains. "Did he say that? I question whether he said it, and if he did say it, it is completely not true," Azinger insisted.

The US captain might have to dip into his little book of big apologies once again, especially if a tape recording emerges of Faldo's remarks.


Tuesday
Sep162008

"Sources close to Sea Island said the PGA Tour believes the concentration of touring pros that reside on the island will help strengthen the field."

Thanks to all of the readers who sent Jon Show's story on the PGA Tour courting Sea Island for a possible Fall Finish event. A couple of noteworthy items from the story:

Industry sources said the tour is trying to sell a $2 million annual title sponsorship, which would include rights fees, ad inventory and four rounds of live coverage on Golf Channel.
Two Fall Series tournaments are title sponsored by their host resort courses, but sources said such an option is unlikely in this case because of Sea Island’s financial position. The company, which owns two resorts and a high-end housing community on the island, recently announced massive layoffs as a result of the weakening economy and downturn in the real estate market.

And I thought this was kind of sad statement about the way you have to take tournaments to the players to get them to play. I know, I know, the Fall Series interferes with Caitlin's cotillion, etc...

The Fall Series, which starts this week at the Viking Classic in Mississippi, was created last year as a package of seven events played after the conclusion of the FedEx Cup season. The inaugural series failed to attract most top-ranked players, but sources close to Sea Island said the PGA Tour believes the concentration of touring pros that reside on the island will help strengthen the field.

Tuesday
Sep162008

Missing Monty Files, Vol. 1

Mike Aitken is the first to miss Monty...

As a dozen of Europe's finest golfers posed for a team photo after the mist cleared at Valhalla this morning, the absence of Colin Montgomerie from the ranks for the first time since he made his debut in the match at Kiawah in 1991 was as jarring as Halloween without trick-or-treat.
For who, the photographer who brought his 17 mm wide angle lens only to find a bunch of ripped young guys?
Although no one, least of all the player himself, could argue the veteran Scot deserved a pick on the strength of his performances this year, that's not the same thing as debating how much Europe could miss his experience and tenacity in Kentucky.

According to Bernard Gallacher, who was Monty's captain on three occasions, the big Scot, at his best, brought versatility and inspiration to the team room and the course.

"Colin had the type of game which was good in both foursomes and fourballs," recalled Gallacher, who is working for Radio 5 in Louisville this week. "People talk about his unbeaten record in singles, but it was his adaptability I liked."

But just think how much food is left on the team buffet spread for Sergio when he's the last to stumble out of bed?

Tuesday
Sep162008

"I think people are going to see a lot of birdies made. You're going to have to play aggressive and loose."

I like the sound of what Hunter Mahan says about the course setup and its potential to provide some excitement this week:

Q. From what you've seen of the course so far, what is it that excites you about the setup and what maybe intimidates you, as well, from what you've seen?

HUNTER MAHAN: Well, the course is right out in front of you. It pretty much tells you what to do on every hole. It's in great shape. There is not much rough. I mean, the first cut is very big in a lot of areas. It could be 12, 15, 20 feet wide. It's a great golf course.

I think people are going to see a lot of birdies made. You're going to have to play aggressive and loose. It's a course to go out there and just have fun and play.

Q. Just a quick one. Hole 13 looks quite challenging with the elevated green. If that becomes a 260 , 270 yard, do you fancy a quick drive up into the heart of the green there?

HUNTER MAHAN: What hole is that?

Q. 13 is the par 4 island hole.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, that could be an interesting hole. I think there's a lot of things that could happen on that hole. They could put the tees up, entice a few guys to go try to hit the green. There's another par 4 on the front nine, I think No. 4 you can do the same thing.

Definitely a lot more risk on 13, but I think there's a lot of fun things you can do on this golf course. Obviously that would be a pretty neat, interesting shot with it being surrounded by water and everything. But that would I have a feeling that tee is maybe up; that's my guess.
Tuesday
Sep162008

"Montgomerie has vowed to ban them if he becomes captain, although he said that when he was single."

One of the great traditions of modern Ryder Cup coverage: making fun of the wives and questioning their role.

Paul Forsyth is the first to weigh in this year:

The wives, of course, are the Ryder Cup’s biggest sideshow. Whether they are to be known as Wags or Wabs (wives and birdies), they will be lined up in front of the cameras for the opening ceremony. Faldo is reported to have asked Valerie Bercher, from whom he was divorced two years ago, to assume the role of lady captain, which is another way of saying she has helped with the wardrobes. “She’s a pretty cool, chic lady and knows how to dress them well,” he said, although Irish designer Paul Costelloe, who kitted them out at the K Club in 2006, was expected to be the guiding hand.

Quite what the wives add to the occasion is unclear. Montgomerie has vowed to ban them if he becomes captain, although he said that when he was single. Westwood insists they have a calming effect. “They are important, especially when you go to an away match. It’s always nice to see a familiar, friendly face inside the ropes. If things are going well, it’s great. If things are going badly, it gives you a lift. That’s the nice thing. You have worked so hard all year to make the team, and you can share it with your wife.”

Tuesday
Sep162008

"As the country's golf boss, he was regularly photographed with such homegrown greats of the game as Bob Charles."

And here I was just about to add links to some of my best acting work only to find out from reader Warren via this Jonahan Marshall and Jim Mahoney story that they fire people for that kind of acting.

The recently appointed head of the New Zealand Hotel Council has resigned after his board discovered he starred in a porn movie and was pictured having sex in a six-page spread inside an X-rated Kiwi magazine.

Garth Stirrat, 40, last night quit the council as it also emerged he had featured in the porn shoots using the alias Steve Parnell when he was employed as chief executive of the New Zealand Professional Golf Association.

As the country's golf boss, he was regularly photographed with such homegrown greats of the game as Bob Charles.

I'm reallly glad the writer prefaced that sentence by noting that "as the country's golf boss."

But the more graphic images of Stirrat in R18 magazines NZX and Brass left NZHC bosses at a loss for words.

"I don't know what to say," said Southern North Island area manager Zayne Boone, who appointed Stirrat.

"Obviously we need to make sure that the way in which we conduct our business is in keeping with what we would expect our members to expect."

Boone said the spread, which featured Stirrat having sex in a number of positions, was "disappointing".
He found the positions disappointing or the sheer number of them?
The NZHC confirmed on Friday it was investigating Stirrat's secret life as a porn star but yesterday issued a statement saying he had moved on after just one week on the job.

"I've spoken to Garth and he told me that he was involved in some filming over six years ago, while he was single, living in Auckland," chairwoman Jenny Langley said in the statement.

It's Auckland's fault!

Monday
Sep152008

"CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Blimey."

Not much of interest in the Captain Faldo and Captain Azinger chat with the lucky media getting to spend Monday in Louisville.

There was one obviously testy exchange, with an attempted rally kill as noted by Lewine Mair. The transcript:

Q. By your own admission, you've taken a bit of a bashing from the Irish media recently; but can you give us your thoughts on the two Irish golfers you've got on your team and whether you fancy playing them together? And to Paul, how pleased were you to see Darren Clarke not in Nick's lineup?

CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Blimey.

CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: All I'll say is that I didn't want to justify why I didn't pick anybody but I would be glad to justify why I picked the guys I did.

So I'm not going to try to justify why Nick didn't pick Darren Clarke. He just brought over 12 I think pretty darned good players, and he had a couple more that he could have chosen. If it was 14 players, I'm pretty sure I know who the other two would be, but it's only 12.

CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: The Irish boys are playing well. From two years ago, we have a three-time major winner, who is pretty impressive. And whoever I put the two Irish boys together, it's Monday afternoon, I just walked off a plane.

Q. How important is it for you to sort generate an awful lot of excitement along the local fans here in the days leading up?

CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think the local fans are already motivated and we'll do everything we can to get those fans ready. I think those fans, they have been waiting for two years for this, so I think they have embraced The Ryder Cup. I feel like they have made me one of their own here and I'm real happy to be here and I couldn't think of a better place for us to play the 37th Ryder Cup than Louisville, Kentucky. If I could hand pick any place in the country this would probably be the spot. I think they will be behind us. The message to the crowd is be enthusiastic, raucous, crazy if you like, but keep it all within the realm of good sportsmanship.

Q. The Open Champion, would you be slightly worried about what you've seen in the last few weeks, that perhaps fatigue might be setting in, and is it that you think the adrenaline rush of The Ryder Cup can overcome that?

CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, he's rested. I spoke to him. I'm very pleased. We're very pleased, the way guys that played last week in Germany, obviously Robert Karlsson won, and the rest of the guys played very well.

Outside of that, the rest of the team is rested, and Padraig is one of them. He's had the weeks off. I chatted with him and he knew what he was doing with his schedule, so the guys have been practicing and kept themselves all light and well oiled, that was kind of one of my requests. No, the team is raring to go.
Monday
Sep152008

Hopkins Defends Faldo In Totally Nonsensical Manner

How else to explain The Times' John Hopkins giving Captain Faldo a standing-O for sharing a private comment from Paul Azinger about his two geezer assistants. And why, but to deflect attention from Faldo's much criticized decision to go with one assistant? Yep, that's something to praise. If you can make sense of the reasoning, please explain in the comments link below!

Interesting, this, isn't it? A bit of subtlety from Faldo, who is not known for it. He has stuck a knife between Azinger's ribs so quietly that Azinger probably hasn't even noticed it. And he has given it a quick twist by quoting Jack Nicklaus, who believes that Stockton and Floyd have too much baggage with them. "He (Azinger] is not sure about that one," Faldo said. "Too many cooks."
It doesn't really matter whether Faldo is right in what he says. Azinger has been put firmly on the back foot. Ignore what Faldo said and Faldo's comments will assume a certain veracity. By answering them, Azinger would give them a patina of truth.
It is hard to conclude anything other than this: well done Faldo.
Wow, that's just a disturbing piece of journalism. It's one thing to savor the drama, gamesmanship and spirited antics, but quite another to encourage childish behavior.

Perhaps Hopkins should read Daniel Wexler's almost Rodney King-like plea for everyone to just get along.